It's official - the elderly, poor and those living in rural areas will be hardest hit by road pricing.

Paying to use roads could trap hard-up people in run-down areas while the rich are free to travel, a Department of Transport study warns. The report - Feasibility Study of Road Pricing - favoured a scheme which tracks cars by satellite then charges up to £1.28 a mile, reports the Daily Mirror.

But an additional section on the social impact pointed out that for the poorest 20% of people motoring took up 25% of the weekly budget. It said: "Where public transport is poor and people are reliant on private transport any road pricing scheme that increases the cost of road use could have a socially regressive effect".

"If there were a requirement to fit expensive equipment where costs fell to the user it would impact disproportionately on poorer road users and those on benefits. Equipment could potentially cost more than the vehicle."

It added: "For older people the cost of motoring can be particularly prohibitive, as many more are likely to live on low incomes and have safety fears when making journeys on public transport. People who work unsociable hours and have to travel to work by car may fall into the peak time of travel on their return despite the fact they are travelling against the flow of traffic".

Nigel Humphries, of the Association of British Drivers, said: "You don't have to be Einstein to work out it is the poor who will be hardest hit. If you are on the national minimum wage, paying £5 for a short car journey into work is a big blow. If you are on £100,000 it is not".

An anti-road pricing online petition, backed by the Daily Mirror's Say No to the Toll Tax campaign, topped 1 million at the weekend.